|Travelling Australia - Journal 2012b
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28 December 2012
Coolah area to near Glen Innes
The morning was bright and warm with a fairly strong northerly wind which threatened to be a bit of a problem if it was still blowing after we left Tamworth on the New England Highway. Driving out of the Black Stump rest area we drove back into Coolah to top up with fuel and to visit the Bakery for a morning coffee before calling in at the supermarket for a few food items. Then we set off north from Coolah along the Black Stump Way intending to drive to Mallaley on the Oxley Highway.
The road runs through grazing and cropping land with numerous property entrances along the road. A few kilometres from Coolah we passed the sign warning of a "deformed" road ahead, this one said for the next 75 kilometres. In fact the "deformation" is localised to sections of five to ten kilometres in length where the road surface seems to be sliding sideways in sections leaving a rough surface. Other parts of the road are not too bad to drive on. Traffic was light, the wind wasn't as strong as we expected; the outside temperature climbed steadily from 32°C to about 35°C but we were in the air-conditioning and didn't notice the temperature.
At Mullaley we joined the Oxley Highway, turning east towards Gunnedah then Tamworth. This was quite a good road with fairly light traffic. For the first time on this trip we passed several caravans going the other way; not a lot but enough to attract our attention. The Oxley Highway here runs to the Warrambungles so maybe that was their destination; it also meets the Newell Highway which is the major north-south road artery in inland New South Wales.
After passing through Gunnedah without incident we continued to Tamworth. Approaching Tamworth we passed two large chicken farms near the road. The land here was all thoroughly cleared and looked as if it was used mainly for cropping. We stopped for lunch in a large rest area across the road from Tamworth airport, then continued through Tamworth, leaving on the New England Highway. A flock of pelicans flying above us at some height attracted our attention for a while. The strong northerly wind experienced this morning had faded away and the outside temperature had dropped to 28°C.
North of Tamworth we made our way up Moonbi Hill Number One then Moonbi Hill Number Two into the higher ground running north from here to Queensland. The Pathfinder towed the caravan up the hill without difficulty although it was working, 3000 rpm in second gear giving a steady 40 kph. The land on top of the hills is devoted mainly to grazing but residual woodland remains along the road and the trees in this woodland tend to be twisted and somewhat stunted. After a few kilometres the roadside trees fade away.
Traffic on the New England Highway was moderately heavy between Tamworth and Armidale but traffic faded away north of Tamworth; we have noticed this variation on previous occasions where there is much less traffic north of Armadile. North of Armidale the New England Highway is generally at about 1000 metres elevation except for higher sections around Guyra (1340 metres) and Ben Lomond (1411 metres). The road descends to be at about 1000 metres at Glen Innes where we stopped for fuel at a United roadhouse north of the town which offers such low cost fuel that service stations in Glen Innes have closed.
We stopped for the night at the Heritage Rest Area north of Glen Innes. This is a large rest area set back a little from the highway with a large flat area. After recent heavy rain the ground was partly covered by water and we had to search for sufficiently dry ground to stop on. The rest area faces onto a trout stream (Beardy Waters) to give fishing travellers something to do. The stream was full of fast flowing water after recent rain around here.
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